Henry L Lazarus
4715 Osage Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
Science Fiction for May 2019
Fantasy and Science Fiction are at their best
when they are under-laid with unusual concepts, and have very real
characters interacting with the problems those concepts cause.
Seanan McGuire, a very prolific
author, offers what may be her best work. Middlegame (hard
from Tor) suggests that there are hidden alchemists working to
control the world. At the beginning of the twentieth century, a
woman alchemist genius set up a plan to control to incarnate a basic
doctrine into specially designed people to control reality. Reed,
who she created from dead bodies, has continued her plan,
discovering that the doctrine has to be split into two parts,
language and math. Roger, raised in Massachusetts has the language.
Dodger raised in Los Angeles has the math. At nine they somehow
mentally talk to one another. At Berkley, where both are students,
their connection causes an earthquake. A decade later in 2016,
things come to climax because Reed has better candidates and tells
his agents to kill them. To make things even more complicated, the
pair have the ability to reset time, and have done so every time,
their path leads to their death. Their journey is fascinating and I
hope this in nominated for awards.
Guy Gavriel Kay has a new tale in
his alternate Earth with a history that mimics our own and a light
touch of fantasy. A Brightness Long Ago (hard from Berkley)
sets his lyrical tale during early Renaissance Italy about the time
the Constantinople fell. Danio Cerra is working for a Count the
service of the head of a City-state known as the Beast. Danio is the
son of a Tailor whose education in a noted school helped land him
his current position. That count is responsible for vetting the
daily women sent for the Beast’s enjoyment, most of whom he
kills. Danio recognizes Adria Ripoli, a noble woman under a
false name, and helps her escape after she assassinates the Beast.
Months later he attends a corrupt horse race and recognizes her
again as one of the competitors. This is helping one of two
Mercenary leaders earn money by betting on her. Danio had met the
other Mercenary leader and alerts him so he can also bet on the
young woman. Finally Danio finds himself representing his city as
the two rival’s armies come to face each other. There isn’t
much plot here and external events dictate what happens, but this is
a fascinating look into a corrupt and violent place. It’s a time
when money can buy everything and those without frequently face ruin
in the marauding mercenary armies. I wonder if this will
get some award nominations as previous Guy Gavriel Kay tales have
Night Shade Books has a ten volume
collection of Rudy Rucker’s tales, including his latest and
what may be his best novel. Zoe Snapp and Villy Antwerpen are nearly
graduated from high school when her pearly floats and opens an unny
tunnel. Two aliens invite them to Mappyworld, a flat universe
in which worlds are represented by basins with thick walls
representing piled up empty space between them. They need to go on a
Million Mile Road Trip (paper) to get a special wand from a
princess and save the Earth from invading evil flying saucers. Off
they go in Villy’s 80's Beater wagon, madly improved by the aliens.
Villy’s brother Scud comes along. The psychedelic Mappyworld
is a trip with surprises around every corner. Of course the Princess
is not a princess and the wand isn’t a wand. Villy has to go into
four dimensional space to kill the big bad, while Zoe and Scud have
to use the wand and her bugle to distract him. I hope this
gets award nominations.
K. J. Parker tells that in
pre-gunpowder days there were Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled
City (paper from Orbit). The capital of the empire has had its
fleet lured away and its army destroyed. The highest ranking officer
is Colonel Orhan and his three hundred engineers. The dying emperor
has been deserted. The gangs at each others throat and pirates are
keeping ships out of the harbor. Luckily Orhan is a rogue, a cheat,
and a liar and figures how to get the whole city to work with him.
Lots of fun.
Tad Williams writes perfect beach books, full of
interesting characters, lots of action and long enough to last a
whole summer. The second book in the The Last King of Osten Ard
trilogy starts with all the viewpoint characters in deep trouble,
and ends with them in worse trouble. The Queen of the Norns
and her army have left the north to seek The Witchwood Crown
(paper). Nabban, where Miriamele, queen of Osten Ard is visiting, is
on the edge of violence. The heir to the throne, Morgan, is
lost in the wilderness. The Empire of Grass (hard from
DAW) is facing serious problems that won’t be resolved till the next
tale, probably two years from now.
Teddy Cannon, The Astral Traveler’s Daughter (hard
from Simon and Schuster) is in the second year of the federal
criminology School for Psychics (paper) still wondering if
her birth mother was a terrorist in the Patriot corps. As she learns
new techniques, like astral projection and psychometry, she also
investigates a new drug that Hyle Pharmaceuticals to remove psychic
abilities, she is also assigned to protect the Hyle family at
Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s a fun tale, but I wasn’t happy with
the ending of this episode in the series. Since at least two more
books are coming, I’m giving the author a pass.
Olivia just got her father, Todd released from twenty
years in prison with the help of her boyfriend and partner, the
lawyer Gabriel Walsh by proving he hadn’t killed the eight people he
was accused of murdering. But it’s a Cruel Fate (hard from
Subterranean Press) that someone has found the serial killer, Todd
actually killed, along with the body of his last victim and left
them for the police to find. Is it one of the local Cainsville
fae, or someone human. Kelley Armstrong tells a fun mystery.
proves to involve magic. He’s also helped by Kelly, a river
spirit. The trail leads to a group of men in a drinking society, and
an ancient spirit, The October Man (hard from Subterranean
Wm. Mark Simmons has another romp
adventure for Christopher Cséjthe, a half vampire who keeps
recovering from death. Recovering from being killed by a semi, he
finds that he has to save the world by finding A Witch in Time
(hard from Baen). It doesn’t help that he drifts into alternate
presents every time he sleeps. At the same time his has to fend off
monsters from Greek mythology. But he does get to work with the
daughter killed in his first reality. I thought the cultural
reference jokes at bit too broad, and the plot existed to give
monster fight after monster fight. Fun.
Alan Dean Foster has a new collection from
WordFire Press in paper, The Flavors of Other Worlds. Larry
Correia and Kacey Ezell have a collection of Noir Fatale
(hard from Baen) tales about dangerous women.
Baen has reprinted the classic Gordon R. Dickson
tale, Timestorm in trade, and the last Sharon Lee and Steve
Miller Liaden tale, Neogenesis in paper.
The Hugo novel nominations are: The
Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal; Record of a
Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers; Revenant Gun by Yoon
Ha Lee; Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente; Spinning
Silver by Naomi Novik; and Trail of Lightning by
The Science Fiction Society will have its next
meeting on May 17th. The meeting starts at 8 p.m.
at International House on the University of Pennsylvania
Campus. As usual guests are welcome.
Dr. Henry Lazarus is a retired Dentist and the
author of A Cycle of Gods (Wolfsinger Publications) and Unnaturally
Female (Smashwords). Check out his unified field theory at
henrylazarus.com/utf.html that suggests fusion generation requires
less energy because only one frequency is needed rather than a full
spectrum. It also explains dark matter, the proliferation of
subatomic particles, and the limit of light speed for matter.